Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, celebrates after defeating Kei Nishikori, of Japan, during the semifinals of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, in NY.
All four players have reached the U.S. Open final - only Nishikori hasn't won it - to make this the first Grand Slam final four since the 2012 Australian Open in which all four players were past finalists.
The 13-time Grand Slam champion will take on Juan Martin del Potro, with the Serb seeking his first US Open title since 2015.
Nishikori, like Djokovic hindered by injury a year ago, is also on the upswing as his gritty five-set victory over former champion Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals showed.
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Nadal, a 17-time Grand Slam champion, mentioned retirement to the chair umpire midway through the second set, then threw in the towel after dropping the set. "Like thousands of other tennis players around the world I'm trying to be the best I can be". "I know what is going on with the knee".
"I am going to keep fighting and working hard to keep enjoying this tour and keep having chances to compete at the highest level".
"From my experience, and I can only talk about myself", Djokovic said, "this has been definitely the toughest U.S. Open in the last, you know, 10 years that I have played in in terms of conditions".
"The problem is this time it was something a little bit more aggressive because it was in one movement".
"That's frustrating. Can't tell you another thing".
Yet the in-form Djokovic, who has a 2-5 record from his previous finals in NY, expects a stern test from the 2009 champion, who has also looked in tremendous form over the past fortnight.
When Rafael Nadal finally finished a almost five-hour climb into the U.S. Open semifinals, he thought backward as much as ahead. I am having a lot of success.
Three days after his epic five-set victory over Dominic Thiem, the world No. 1's title defense came to a heartbreaking end as he called a halt to his contest while trailing Del Potro 7-6 [7-3] 6-2.
The Japanese player's spirit was finally broken and his serve followed, with Djokovic claiming his fourth break with a fist-pumping celebration before serving for the match.
"Yeah, for sure it's going to give me good confidence", Nishikori said, "even though I (don't) remember". "All my career everybody said that because of my style, I will have a short career", he noted. Djokovic faced only two break points, both in the second, and erased them both. "I didn't expect to get in another Grand Slam final".
"I waited as much as I can".